(Rick Hickman / American Press)
Last Modified: Monday, December 10, 2012 2:40 PM
NEW ORLEANS — In the end, it all came down to timing.
Barbe’s quest for the Class 5A state championship fell short mainly because of timing.
Top-seeded Rummel controlled the time in Saturday night’s title game inside the Superdome, Barbe could not.
By doing so, the Raiders (14-0) were able to control the game’s tempo, keeping the Bucs high-powered offense on the sideline. It is something Barbe (13-2) had seen before, but never like this.
“They had great clock management,” Barbe head coach Mike Cutrera said. “Give them credit for that. They had a great game plan.”
Really, the Raider plan was simple; limit the number of times Barbe had the football. They did so by using a power running attack, timely passing and slowing down the action.
Before almost every play, Rummel’s offense let the play clock run down to two seconds or one before snapping the football. That kept the clock running and kept Barbe’s offense as spectators.
It was equal to the old four corners offense in basketball, and it kept Barbe’s fast-break offense stymied.
“It was frustrating, watching,” said Bucs junior quarterback Kennon Fontenot. “They really took us out of our rhythm. We could not get anything going.”
That was the plan.
“We knew they had a great offense and could score from anywhere on the field, we just wanted to keep them in front of us and slow everything down,” said Rummel head coach Jay Roth. “We felt the best way to do that was limit the number of possessions they got.”
A 99-yard drive in the first quarter showed the Raider plan in full and came on their opening drive. The touchdown march ate up just over 8 minutes of the clock and set the tone for the rest of the night.
“We felt like our best defense was going to be our offense,” said Roth.
Barbe had the ball just three times in the first half, scoring once, driving into Rummel territory before punting another time and seeing the half end before they could score.
The last one might have been the most important, as the Bucs seemed to have scored on the last play of the half when Fontenot hit Desean Smith with a touchdown pass, but it was called back for offsetting penalties. The pair would connect on two TD passes during the game.
The Bucs would hold a 14-13 lead heading into the fourth quarter, but that’s where Rummel’s pounding of the football paid off, as the Rebels scored three rushing touchdowns, all from junior tailback Keith Fulton, to capture the title.
Fontenot threw two interceptions in the final quarter, as desperation began to set in for Barbe.
Unlike previous games, the Bucs just never got Rummel out of its comfort zone, that of slower play.
“They (Barbe) have a great offense and we could not have won that way,” said Roth.
And the Raiders excuted that plan to perfection.